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If you want to know how to say ‘mom’ in Hawaiian, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide an in-depth look at Hawaiian culture, history, and language to help you understand the Hawaiian word for ‘mother’.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the most common Hawaiian word for ‘mom’ or ‘mother’ is makuahine. Now let’s dive deeper into the richness of Hawaiian language and culture surrounding motherhood.

The Origins and Importance of the Hawaiian Language

The Hawaiian language, known as ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, has deep roots in the history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands. It is a Polynesian language that developed from the ancient Polynesians who settled in Hawaii around 1,500 years ago. The Hawaiian language evolved over time, influenced by the unique environment and cultural practices of the islands.

The Development of the Hawaiian Language

The Hawaiian language developed as a means of communication among the early settlers of Hawaii. It was an oral language, passed down through generations through chants, songs, and storytelling. The language was closely tied to the land and the sea, reflecting the deep connection that the Hawaiian people had with their natural surroundings.

As the Hawaiian civilization flourished, so did the language. It evolved to include new words and expressions to describe the changing world. The Hawaiian language was used in various aspects of daily life, from naming places and objects to expressing emotions and spiritual beliefs.

Hawaiian as an Official Language in Hawaii

Despite the historical importance of the Hawaiian language, it faced significant challenges during the colonization of Hawaii. In the late 19th century, the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown, and English became the dominant language of education and governance.

However, in recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Hawaiian language, leading to its recognition as an official language of the State of Hawaii. In 1978, the Hawaiian language was declared an official language along with English. This recognition has helped to preserve and revitalize the language, ensuring its continued existence for future generations.

The Decline and Resurgence of the Hawaiian Language

For many years, the Hawaiian language faced a decline in usage and fluency. This was due to various factors, including the suppression of the language during the period of colonization and the influence of Western culture. At one point, it was estimated that only a few dozen native speakers remained.

However, efforts to revive the Hawaiian language have been successful in recent years. Schools, universities, and community organizations have implemented programs to teach Hawaiian language and culture. The resurgence of the language has been met with enthusiasm and support from both the local community and visitors to the islands.

Today, the Hawaiian language is taught in schools, used in ceremonies and cultural events, and has become an integral part of Hawaiian identity. It serves as a symbol of pride and heritage for the Hawaiian people, connecting them to their ancestors and preserving their unique cultural traditions.

To learn more about the Hawaiian language and its significance, visit

Hawaiian Words for ‘Mom’ or ‘Mother’

When it comes to the Hawaiian language, the word for ‘mom’ or ‘mother’ is deeply rooted in the rich culture and history of the Hawaiian people. Let’s explore some of the Hawaiian words used to refer to this special figure in our lives.

Makuahine – The Most Common Word for ‘Mother’

The most commonly used word for ‘mother’ in Hawaiian is ‘makuahine’. This word holds a deep significance in Hawaiian culture, representing the nurturing and loving nature of a mother. The word ‘makuahine’ is a beautiful way to express gratitude and love towards our mothers.

In the Hawaiian language, the word ‘makuahine’ can also be used as a term of respect for an older woman, even if she is not your biological mother. This showcases the importance of motherhood in Hawaiian society and the reverence given to mother figures.

Kaikamahine – Daughter or Girl

Another interesting word related to the concept of ‘mother’ in Hawaiian is ‘kaikamahine’. While this word directly translates to ‘daughter’ or ‘girl’, it also holds a deeper meaning. In Hawaiian culture, daughters are often seen as the future mothers who will carry on the traditions and values of their ancestors.

This connection between ‘kaikamahine’ and motherhood highlights the importance of the mother-daughter relationship in Hawaiian society. It symbolizes the passing down of knowledge, wisdom, and love from one generation to the next.

Other Words Referring to Mother Figures

In addition to ‘makuahine’ and ‘kaikamahine’, there are other words in the Hawaiian language that refer to mother figures. For example, ‘kumu’ means ‘source’ or ‘origin’, and can be used to express the idea of a mother being the source of life and love.

Similarly, ‘kahu’ means ‘caretaker’ or ‘guardian’, and can be used to describe someone who takes on the role of a mother figure, even if they are not biologically related. These words reflect the diverse ways in which Hawaiian culture acknowledges and honors the role of mothers and mother figures in our lives.

For more information on Hawaiian language and culture, you can visit Hawaii History and Hawaiian Language websites that provide in-depth resources and insights into the Hawaiian language and cultural practices.

The Significance of Motherhood in Hawaiian Culture

In Hawaiian culture, motherhood holds a deep and revered significance. Throughout history, women, or wahine, have held a high status in ancient Hawaii, playing vital roles in the family and community. The role of a mother is not only limited to giving birth but encompasses a wide range of responsibilities that are highly valued.

The High Status of Wahine (Women) in Ancient Hawaii

In ancient Hawaii, women held a prominent position in society. They were respected for their wisdom, strength, and nurturing qualities. It was believed that the power of creation and life resided within women, making them central figures in the family unit. Mothers were seen as the primary caregivers and educators of their children, instilling cultural values and passing on traditions through storytelling and hands-on activities.

Historically, women in Hawaii had an active role in decision-making processes within the family and community. They held positions of leadership and were involved in governing their territories. This elevated status of wahine contributed to the importance and respect given to motherhood in Hawaiian culture.

Motherhood and the Hānai Tradition of Adoption

In addition to biological motherhood, the concept of motherhood in Hawaii extends beyond bloodlines through the practice of hānai. Hānai is a tradition of informal adoption, where a child is raised by someone other than their biological parents. This practice allowed for children to be nurtured and cared for by extended family members or close friends, ensuring their well-being and cultural upbringing.

The hānai tradition reflects the belief that motherhood is not solely defined by biology but by the act of nurturing and providing love and support to a child. It emphasizes the importance of the collective responsibility in raising children, creating a sense of community and interconnectedness.

Makuahine as a Term of Respect

In the Hawaiian language, the term “makuahine” is used to refer to a mother. This term carries a deep level of respect and honor, acknowledging the significance of a mother’s role in the family and community. It is a term that embodies the love, care, and wisdom that mothers bring to their children.

The use of “makuahine” emphasizes the cultural value placed on motherhood in Hawaiian society. It serves as a reminder of the important role that mothers play in shaping the future generations and preserving the rich traditions and heritage of the Hawaiian people.

How to Pronounce ‘Makuahine’ Correctly

Breaking Down the Word

When it comes to pronouncing the word ‘Makuahine’ correctly, it helps to break it down into smaller parts. In the Hawaiian language, each syllable is pronounced separately, making it easier to grasp the pronunciation. The word ‘Makuahine’ consists of four syllables: ‘ma-ku-a-hi-ne’.

The first syllable ‘ma’ is pronounced as ‘mah’, similar to the sound of ‘ma’ in the word ‘mahalo’. The following syllable ‘ku’ is pronounced as ‘koo’, just like the word ‘cool’. The third syllable ‘a’ is pronounced as ‘ah’, as in the word ‘father’. Lastly, the syllable ‘hine’ is pronounced as ‘hee-neh’, with a soft ‘h’ sound followed by ‘ee’ as in ‘see’ and ‘neh’ rhyming with ‘day’.

Putting it all together, ‘Makuahine’ is pronounced as ‘mah-koo-ah-hee-neh’. Remember to pronounce each syllable distinctly and with emphasis on the vowels.

Listening to Native Speakers

One of the best ways to master the correct pronunciation of ‘Makuahine’ is to listen to native Hawaiian speakers. By hearing the word spoken by those who are fluent in the language, you can better understand the nuances of pronunciation and mimic their intonation.

There are several resources available online where you can listen to audio recordings of native speakers pronouncing ‘Makuahine’. Websites such as and provide audio clips and pronunciation guides for various Hawaiian words, including ‘Makuahine’.

By actively listening to and practicing the pronunciation, you will gradually develop a more accurate and natural-sounding pronunciation of ‘Makuahine’. So don’t hesitate to immerse yourself in the language and learn from the experts!

When and How to Use ‘Makuahine’

Greeting Your Mother

In Hawaiian culture, the word ‘Makuahine’ is used to refer to one’s mother. It is a term that is often used to show love, respect, and honor to the maternal figure in one’s life. When greeting your mother in Hawaiian, you can say “Aloha, Makuahine!” which translates to “Hello, Mother!” This simple greeting can bring a smile to your mother’s face and create a warm atmosphere.

Referring to Your Mother in Conversation

When engaging in conversation and talking about your mother, using the term ‘Makuahine’ can add a touch of cultural significance. For example, instead of saying “My mom is amazing,” you can say “My Makuahine is amazing.” This not only showcases your pride and love for your mother but also demonstrates your connection to the Hawaiian culture.

Using Makuahine as a Sign of Respect

In Hawaiian culture, respect for one’s parents is highly valued. Using the term ‘Makuahine’ when referring to your mother is a way to show this respect. It acknowledges the important role she plays in your life and the love and care she has provided. By using ‘Makuahine’, you are not only honoring your own mother but also honoring the role of mothers in general.

It is important to note that Hawaiian culture is rich and diverse, and there may be variations in the use of language and terminology depending on the specific islands or regions. It is always a good idea to consult with native speakers or cultural experts for guidance on proper usage of Hawaiian words and phrases.

For more information on Hawaiian culture and language, you can visit which provides a comprehensive guide to Hawaiian words and phrases.


In Hawaiian culture, motherhood represents strength, wisdom, and unconditional love. Understanding terms like makuahine provides insight into the heart of Hawaiian values. While this word has a simple translation to English as ‘mother’, its cultural meaning runs much deeper. We hope this outline provides a helpful starting point to appreciate the richness of Hawaiian language and traditions surrounding motherhood.

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